We joined this fantastic ship in Fremantle and found the boarding process well managed and reasonably quick. Our stateroom (Deck 6) was beautifully appointed and the balcony excellent. Although scheduled for a refit late 2014 the conditions were very good and the service crew excellent. All meals were very good with a wide variety of beautifully prepared and presented food. The ship is very stable and we only felt the occasional slight movement beneath our feet. Hygiene is paramount on board and you will find "washi washi hands" through every corner of the ship and activity aboard.
If it was all so good where are our bitter pills? We booked through RAC - 1st mistake. The service was disjointed and lacking communication and follow-up. The checking of inter travel agent bookings were frail and portions omitted. More detail below. On board the Cruise line use a "Sea Pass" system and an undermanned customer relations desk (Deck 5). Again the staff were excellent but the systems fail them. Internet aboard was useless and way overpriced. We found that the "Sea Pass" account needed close scrutiny as additional bar charges crept in where no service had been provided and the touted $40 US discount per stateroom never materialised.
Deck 11 (smokers on starboard side only) had great bar service but the table service needs a lot of improvement, especially if you have purchased a "drinks package" as we did. Arranged tours were poor at stopovers and better value can be found by using local knowledge if you are able to overcome any language barriers. We did very well in this area. The last two days of the cruise saw a change of attitude towards the paying customers and there was a distinct feeling of "well thanks for your money but now we must prepare for the next lot of guests". The excellent service of the room staff and the meal staff remained excellent to the end.
To our Travel Agent. We learned that RAC acted on behalf of Qantas Holidays for our land portion of the holiday. Our transfers from ship to hotel to airport were vague and without any detail what so ever. Accordingly we were not collected at the dock in Singapore and ended up getting a taxi although the transfer had been paid in advance at about the same cost as our taxi charged! A person (Mr. Hon) from RAM did contact us at the hotel and our trip to the airport went fine. We had not been advised of who would meet us, what time to expect this contact or where it should take place. We found quite a few RAC clients had the same trouble.
Our airline tickets were very late in arriving, at two days before departure and the blame was pointed at Singapore Airlines. Our belief is the tardiness was due to the flight bookings being through Qantas Holidays group booking arrangements and not the blame of the airline at all.
Over all we had a wonderful time aboard and enjoyed top service for the majority of the trip. Our return home in the hands of Singapore Airlines was a treat, being on time and with excellent service.